Three of the four Porsche Coanda Esports works drivers will take part in the Spring Major finals of the ESL R1 sim racing championship in Munich. At the eighth and final regular round of the season at the Hockenheimring, ninth place was enough to put Mitchell deJong among the top 24 sim racers in the newly created esports racing series. Earning four points for eighth place in his last quarter-final race, Mack Bakkum from the Netherlands also received a ticket for the trip to the Bavarian capital. The Spring Major is held as part of “Rennsport Summit” on 3 and 4 June as an online event witnessed by spectators. Participants can win prize money totalling 225,000 euros.
In the four quarter-final races last Friday, only Rogers and deJong made it through to the semi-finals. In addition to the two works cars from Porsche Coanda Esports Racing, two other Porsche 911 GT3 competed: Heroic’s driver Tommy Östgard from Norway and Tuomas Tähtelä from Finland made the cut. Tähtelä, however, only qualified on eighth place in the first semi-final on Monday evening. A scuffle at the end of the first lap threw him out of contention. DeJong started the ten-lap race from position five on the grid, which he defended to the flag against points’ leader Luke Bennett from the UK. This earned the American a place in the finals.
In the qualifying session for the second semi-final, Rogers in fifth place was a mere 0.040 seconds off pole position – a testament to the fierce competition in the ESL R1 series. Accordingly, he had to fend off furious attacks from his pursuers in the first lap. However, when the hunters became entangled in duels over the all-important sixth place, the Australian found room to breathe and crossed the finish line in fifth place unchallenged. After a fluffed qualifying session, Östgaard worked his way up the order to tenth place. This meant he watched the last race of the day from the sidelines.
The final race proved disappointing for the two Porsche Coanda drivers. After a jump start, Rogers received a drive-through penalty, which threw him to the back of the field. DeJong qualified in eleventh and took the flag in tenth place.
The inaugural ESL R1 series of the Electronic Sports League (ESL) is primarily aimed at factory teams and major esports organisations. The sim racing series on the new simulation platform “Rennsport” heads into the next round in the second half of the year with the autumn championship.
Comments after the race
Philip Stamm (D, Team Principal Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “The name of the game at the last race in Hockenheim was about the results of our rivals. Josh Rogers had already qualified for Munich. Because he and Mitchell deJong reached the final race today, they now have a particularly good baseline for the Spring Major. With Mack Bakkum, however, we worked up a bit of a sweat. We’re fielding three cars in Munich, so we’re pleased. We’re anticipating two days with an exciting race format there. To prepare, we’ll test as much as possible.”
Mitchell deJong (NL, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “My Monday went really well. I made it into the finals, which earns me decent points for the Spring Major in Munich. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite manage to make the most of it in qualifying but I had some great duels in the race and finished ninth.”
Joshua Rogers (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “I’m a bit lost of words when it comes to my final race today – unfortunately not for good reasons. I have to see what exactly happened. I jumped the start which was clearly my fault. With a view to Munich, I wanted to earn as many points as possible. But this sometimes happens in motorsport. The Spring Major follows a completely different format and that makes it even more appealing. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Mack Bakkum (NL, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing): “That was a pretty exciting day! Thanks to the results of the competition, I’m in 24th place and just made it into the Spring Major event – it’s probably the most nerve-wracking race I’ve ever watched. I’m delighted that it worked out!”
Hockenheim (D), finals
1. Marcell Csincsik, Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II (H, R8G Esports)
2. James Baldwin, AMG GT3 Evo (UK, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team)
3. Luke Bennett, BMW M4 GT3 (UK, Team Redline)
9. Mitchell deJong, Porsche 911 GT3 R (USA, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing)
12. Joshua Rogers, Porsche 911 GT3 R (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing)
Drivers’ standings after 8 of 10 championship rounds
1. Luke Bennett (UK, Team Redline), 290 points
2. Marcell Csincsik (H, R8G Esports), 278 points
3. Joshua Rogers (AUS, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 255 points
16. Mitchell deJong (USA, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 128 points
24. Mack Bakkum (NL, Porsche Coanda Esports Racing), 93 points
Team standings after 8 of 8 championship rounds
1. Team Redline, 758 points
2. R8G Esports, 728 points
3. Porsche Coanda Esports Racing, 560 points